Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a Hampshire garden. I've been growing veggies since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Some traditional varieties and old favourites as well as new ideas. I share my garden with my allotment assistant Daisy the Labrador. On Twitter as @MatronsVeggies

Monday, May 03, 2010

Matron's Biodiversity Competition!

You have the chance to win a one year membership of the Royal Horticultural Society. This will give you and a friend free entry to any RHS garden for a year. This is what you have to do.Leave a comment of no more than 100 words on what you are doing in your garden or allotment to promote biodiversity. Matron is looking for simple, gentle, ingenious, innovative and effective projects. If you don't live in the UK or feel that you want to join in but don't want the prize then please say so after your 100 word comment. Matron will choose the winner next Saturday 8th May. Matron's decision is final, no correspondence will be entered into, etc. etc


At 7:54 AM, Blogger BilboWaggins said...

I don’t use any chemicals, anywhere, EVER, or tidy up a great deal, and that includes lawn mowing. Our lawn sprouts Common Spotted Orchid, Self-Heal, Herb Robert, Lady's Smock, Achillea and many natives which the insects love.

All green waste makes compost. Rotting log piles all over the garden are home to a myriad of bugs and insects and mice. Last year a Robin and Blackbird nested in larger piles.

We've put up a dozen bird boxes, a red squirrel box and two bat boxes are about to be installed.

Little birds eat bugs, kestrel and tawny owl catch mice, the sparrowhawk catches smaller birds. The wildlife ponds will be dug as soon as possible.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Vegetable Heaven said...

Three ponds, three bird feeders and three nest boxes, one a six hole, three compartment sparrow villa, increase our garden biodiversity.

A small wildflower meadow, cut in July, a damson and three apple trees bring in pollinating insects and the buddleia is encrusted with butterflies when it flowers. I maintain a nettle patch for small tortoise-shells.

Slug and snail control is via frogs, toads and chickens so the garden is chemical free.

I grow many heritage vegetables but my personal contribution to biodiversity is through breeding my own varieties of peas, beans, tomatoes and potatoes.

It's a wonderful life!

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Jo said...

Even though my garden is only small, I still do as much as I can to encourage pollenating insects, but I do them on a smaller scale. Last year I installed a pond, it's only 84cm X 64cm but I have already seen frogs in it. I have a wood pile next to the pond for insects to live and hibernate in.I also planted up my only border with native plants, such as Evening Primrose, Oxeye Daisy and Meadow Cranesbill as well as many others, providing a nectar bar and encouraging lots of different species in to the garden.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Green Lane Allotments said...

We try and encourage biodiversity in both our garden and on our allotment plots.
)n our plot we have grass paths which double as beetle banks - a bit more work but also I think nothing looks nicer than the soil set off with green borders. Grass is allowed to grow longer around trees as different creatures need different lengths of grass. Some is allowed to flower too as some butterflies will feed from them. Native wildflowers have been planted under the fruit trees and other self sown seeds allowed to grow there too.
We grow lots of flowers for cutting but also for the insects and birds - sunflowers are always popular and leaving the seed heads in place provides foraging. Flowers are chosen for how attractive they are to invertebrates. I choose different colours and shapes so that they attract different insects.
We also plant excess cuttings of shrubs for the garden and have a row of buddleias which are very popular with bees and butterflies. Lauremls form a hedge in which many birds nest or roost.
In the corner of our plot is a nettle bed – great for caterpillars and we also grow comfrey - the bits allowed to flower are popular with bees as are the foxgloves.
Our blackberry provides enough fruit for us and wildlife and once we have had our fill of redcurrants they are uncovered to allow blackbirds to take their share.
We have had hedgehogs nesting in piles on straw which were used to cover dahlia tubers over winter so care is taken when moving piles of 'debris'. We also have woodpiles in both garden and on the plot and stone piles created from stones dug up on the plot.
Our compost heap is just that – a heap – and a favourite overwintering place for frogs and toads.
In the garden a pong and a couple of bird baths provide a constant water supply for birds – the pond also draws in breeding frogs each year. We also have bird nesting boxes and feeding stations offering a variety of food in different types of locations to attract a variety of birds.
Next project is to make a bee nesting block – just need a suitable slice of tree trunk!
Just a short explanation really as co-incidentally I am also writing a feature on biodiversity for my website where I write about the creatures that share our plot and garden. Hope to have it completed by next week!

At 8:18 AM, Anonymous Damo said...

Just reading these posts makes me realise there is so much more I can do in my garden to encourage wildlife. Encouraging and nurturing a garden to flourish whilst avoiding chemicals and being a bit untidy round the edges is a huge leap in the right direction from the concrete and tarmac that proliferates so much of our open spaces these days. If everyone could make small changes with whatever outdoor space they have the wildlife on our doorsteps would increase dramatically!

At 8:59 PM, Blogger Magic Cochin said...

A newt doesn’t just need water – it needs bugs to feeds on; a water forget-me-not leaf to fold around its egg; and logs and stones to hide under in the winter.

So here’s my pact:

No weed-killers and pesticides;
Nectar rich flowering plants;
A half buried log pile and bundles of dry hollow stems;
Seed-heads left on the plants through the winter;
A small pond surrounded by log piles and a bog garden;
Wild-flowers mingling in the borders and lawn.

And the wildlife has moved in… hundreds of inter-connected life-cycles; we’re relying on each other to thrive.

At 4:25 AM, Anonymous Karen said...

Hi Matron -

I have a lot of concerns about pollinators, so I allow many flowers to self-sow in my garden that they enjoy, like alyssum, pansies, calendulas, lupines, etc. I also have recently begun adding more plant species native to the Pacific Northwest, such as evergreen huckleberry, silverberry, native columbine, etc. to encourage the native pollinators. I am also going to try to help out at this really wonderful project that's just getting going here, called the Pollinator Pathway, where they gry to get people to change over their parking strips into native plantings that benefit pollinators. Hm, what else? Oh, I neglect to prune my shrubs too much so that they form thickets for the birds to take cover in. Worm bin... what else? Just trying to live and let live, except for the (non-native) snails. Crunch!

As you know, I live in Seattle so sadly am not likely to use the RHS membership. Nice prize, though, and I have looked at some of their web site recently, it has a lot of great info on it! Have fun judging your entries.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Green Lane Allotments said...

Ooops should have said pond not pong!

On the subject of newts we come across lots of them when digging the plot - we are often to be seen picking them up to transport to safety!

At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chop a pallet in half, fill the bottom with chopped up twigs, put engineering bricks (the ones with holes)between the two halves. Fill the holes with pine cones and fill the gaps with bits of old bamboo/lumps of wood with holes drilled in. Top with old tiles and you have a beneficial insect house. I sourced mine entirely from skips

At 2:55 PM, Blogger VP said...

Glad to see you've got some entrants Matron. I'm running the same competition but no entrants yet!

At 8:33 AM, Blogger Elaine said...

When I got my allotment, I didn't really have a clue, but knew that I didn't want it all as vegetables. So I have added an apple, apricot, plum and conference pear tree, which the bees and strangely the ants seem to love. various flowering fruit bushes, rose bushes, tonnes of lavender, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sweet william, sweet rocket, lupins, pinks, pansies, daffs, clematis, sweat peas. I then added a pond with a solar fountain - only trouble is the fox who lives in my wildflower hillocks (built up with lovely couch and rye grass) has a tendency to chew the end of it - naughty fox. I have created little hideyholes for some toads, under plastic domes (old bins) close to my hillocks and strangely for an allotment plenty of bramble at the back - I'm sure a bear lives in there. As a freecycle freak all of my structures are made from recycled articles such as blanket boxes and the infamous pallet. My compost bins are all from pallets. It never fails to amaze me what people throw away. I love my little farm and it's pesticide free - I use chicken poo to fertilise and horse manure. The combination of both means that I tend to float over my patch with the smell, but oh the produce makes it all worth while. Things like Beans I leave the roots in to re-energise after a growing season. I love my lottery (that's what my friend and I call it)it gives me so much for free.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger RobD said...

I keep alive a thiving population of pigeons eating my brassicas, squirrels my strawberries, wasps my raspberries, mice/rats my Jerusalem artichokes, rabbits a selection of herbs, and slugs and snails anything else that the others may have left behind - all of which are organically grown. There's a nicely accessible bath of water for them all to drink from, a hedge to shelter in when it rains, a tree to roost in and idenitfy the best pickings and a compost heap to keep them warm in the winter. Oh and I grow some flowers for the bees too, as I believe I've said before, everyone should grow some flowers shouldn't they? ;>)

At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Sophie said...

We have an allotment with a pond, wood piles, nettle areas and a variety of habitats. We are embarrassingly proud of the compost & manure piles and are careful about using organic methods for pest control.
The pond is an old bath with pond snails, mint, and lots of newts. Frogs spawn in the spring but the newts love frog spawn so it's soon eaten. To increase the biodiversity we remove some frogspawn to a fishtank at home. We can then reintroduce frogs when they've grown and also have the pleasure of watching them develop - very therapeutic and better than Eastenders anyday.

At 11:05 PM, Blogger sonia said...

I take my chances at the allotment leaving some brassicas exposed for the birds to eat and for the White butterflies to breed in. Peas unnetted in case the resident pheasants get peckish. For two years I let the badger enjoy my sweetcorn till last year when he ate all the cobs and left me none. There's only so much you can leave to nature. I don't kill slugs - I let the birds eat them. I didn't hack down my sunflower but let it remain, a natural birdfeeder throughout the winter. Forget-me-nots often interrupt the vegetable patch unchallenged.

At 1:15 PM, Blogger Frogs Garden Adventures said...

Ensconced in my warm wet perimeter live tadpoles, leeches, palmate newt ,and aquatic insects. Birds bathe on my pebble beach and sip water from boulder perches. Surrounding, rock and log havens are dotted through shrubs, enticing fauna. Compost heaps and a dead wood hedge encourages creatures to thrive. My old stone wall houses a coal tit nest. Wild and ordinary flowers mingle through my borders and vegetable areas attracting insects. Woodmice, pheasants, toads, and other organisms frequent my terrain. My creators manage me naturally, not bad for a pond that was completed late last year and a bare garden!


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